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Christmas, Malls, and Jaffa
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Casey looked up at the man from where she lay on the floor, the wind knocked out of her...temporarily. With a groan she sat up, accepted the large black hand, allowed Teal'c to pull her to her feet. "Okay," she said, shaking her arms slightly. "I can do it. One more time."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "We have been practicing this move for nearly an hour. Perhaps you should rest."
She shook her head stubbornly. "I can do it. Just one more time."
Jab. Duck. Twist. Jab. Whirl. Duck. Jab. Wham! "Shit!" she mumbled.
"You are thinking, rather than acting out of instinct." Teal'c chided gently, once again helping the slender blonde to her feet.
She nodded. Don't think. Right. Not so easy to do when engaging in mastaba with a Jaffa! She closed her eyes. Took a deep breath. Centered herself the way that Teal'c had taught her. Which wasn't so different from the instruction Miss Eloise had given her concerning her gift.
"Do not think, Casey Jackson. You must feel the moves; anticipate with your body, not your mind."
Another nod. "I'm ready."
Jab. Duck. Twist. Jab. Whirl. Duck. Jab. Twist. Kick. Jab. Thrust. Jab.
She grinned as Teal'c began to retreat from her now aggressive posture, no longer merely defending herself. Wham!
The large man grinned down at her. "Do not believe you have won until your opponent is down...and dead," he reminded her.
"Right." She sat up. "Okay, now I think I'm done for the day."
"You have worked very hard this morning," Teal'c agreed.
She glanced at the clock on the far wall, grimaced slightly. "Yeah, well, this will be the easiest thing I do all day!" she declared.
That one eyebrow rose slightly.
"I have to go to the mall today," she explained. "I haven't had time to do my Christmas shopping yet. It's going to be a zoo!"
The Jaffa frowned. "There will be wild and domesticated animals on display at this place of commerce?"
She couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up. "Not exactly. It's just a saying. You know how the mall gets this time of year."
"I do not."
Casey stared at her friend. "You've never been to the mall?"
"I have accompanied O'Neill to the mall on two separate occasions, and Daniel Jackson once."
"But never at Christmas time?"
The man shook his head.
"Well, then, I think it's high time you did! It's beautiful, with all of the decorations, and the excitement in the air, and watching the little ones visit with Santa Claus. Come with me," she suggested eagerly.
Teal'c smiled. "I would be honored to accompany you."
"You'll also be great for carrying heavy packages," Casey teased. "I'm going to take a shower. Meet you at the elevator in thirty minutes."
"I will be there," Teal'c replied. He watched his young friend race from the gym. Smiled inwardly. The woman rarely moved at what would be considered a 'normal' pace at any time. But she seemed in an even greater hurry today.
He grabbed the bottom of his sweatshirt, wiped his face, and headed for the men's locker room. As always, his workout with Casey had been...challenging. Oh, she was far from being a match for him. It would be some time before she was actually proficient at mastaba. But she was a fast learner, dedicated to doing her best. Determined to 'get it right'. Stubborn as a mule. Which, he'd learned, upon researching the saying, was an animal used mostly as a beast of burden. And extremely stubborn.
This year would mark Teal'c's sixth Christmas on Earth. He'd studied the holiday, with all of its varied meanings and trappings, the first year he'd been at the SGC. He had celebrated each holiday season with O'Neill and Daniel Jackson and Major Carter; at least, they'd celebrated when they were actually on Earth. He had attended the Christmas parties held in the large commissary, fascinated by the traditions and rituals. When he'd learned enough to know that gifts were exchanged, he'd used his knowledge of the internet to order gifts online. He'd never once ventured out of the SGC to shop. At least, not at Christmas time. He'd never thought about it, and apparently, neither had his teammates.
He smiled as he finished his shower. It seemed that Casey Jackson had taught him more, exposed him to more of life on this planet in the eleven months she'd been a part of the SGC than he had been exposed to in the previous five years. Not that his friends hadn't told him, taught him about life on Earth. It was just that Casey Jackson was a very...hands on...type of person. Just reading about something was not good enough, in her opinion. Experience was the best way to learn about anything, she'd declared. She had likened it to simply looking at a cookie, or eating the cookie. Looking at it, she said, was nice, you knew that the cookie was sweet and good and pleasing. It was nothing, she said, like actually eating the cookie. Which was usually so good as to be difficult to describe with mere words.
Never had the gray walls of the SGC reverberated with laughter the way they had since Casey Jackson had arrived. It was as if the slender blonde had breathed life into the very air around him...around all of those who worked in the secret mountain complex. She'd certainly made his life more...interesting. Not since befriending Ally, a young street waif, had he 'played'. He'd purchased several water-guns so that he and Casey could 'practice strategies'. It was, he insisted, a way for her to learn to fight without danger of her actually being wounded. That he looked forward to their days spent running through the corridors...taunting one another, drenching any who dared to get in their way...was something he kept to himself.
Not all of their time together was frivolous. There were the weekly meditation sessions. He, and Daniel Jackson, and Casey Jackson would sit in silence, although often after an hour of peaceful meditation, they would talk quietly.
There were their lunches together. Daniel Jackson had confided to him that he loved the fact that his wife was such a chatterbox at home. Casey Jackson was just as...chatty...with him, it seemed. She never seemed to be at a loss for questions about his life as a Jaffa. She never judged. Never disapproved. She'd listen carefully to his answers. And then ask more questions. She had a voracious appetite for knowledge. Which was making it quite easy to teach her to speak Goa'uld.
He pulled on blue jeans and a thick, black cable-knit sweater. A black knit hat pulled low over his tattoo, and he was ready to join his young friend. He grabbed his black leather coat, one that Major Carter had insisted that he needed, and closed the door of his locker.
"Hey, Teal'c," Major Ferretti said in greeting.
"Good morning, Major Ferretti," Teal'c replied.
The Marine frowned. It was rare to see Teal'c dressed in civilian clothes this early in the day. "Going topside?"
"Indeed. Casey Jackson has decreed that I must experience the shopping mall during Christmas."
Lou Ferretti shook his head. Just when he was convinced that Casey was the sweetest little thing on Earth, she turned around and exposed that wicked side. "She's a cruel woman, my friend."
Teal'c bit back his smile. He was well aware of the locker room talk about shopping and the mall in general, from a man's point of view. And shopping and the mall in particular at Christmas time. "I am Jaffa. I will survive."
Lou stared at the man for a few seconds, then barked with laughter. "O'Neill is right, you've been working on your sense of humor!"
"One must have a sense of humor when in the presence of Casey Jackson," Teal'c intoned.
The Marine laughed harder. "Oh, hell, that's for sure! Well, good luck!"
Casey hurried through her routine, dried her hair and applied a bit of blush, mascara and lip gloss. She never wore makeup to work, but she preferred to look her best when she was going out. She slid her jeans over her legs, tugged the pink tunic sweater that Daniel loved over her head. The scarf that matched the tunic went around her slender waist. Her favorite boots went over her stocking-ed feet.
Her coat was in Daniel's office, dropped there when she'd accompanied him that far when they arrived, before kissing him and heading down to the gym. Her purse was there as well. She greeted Cathy and Tiesha, exchanged a few tidbits of gossip...not the hurtful variety. Just bits of information that were interesting...such as the fact that one of Cathy's teammates was a new father. And that the women of the base were chipping in to buy a nice gift for both mother and baby. And that Tiesha's boyfriend, a Marine, was due to spend the holidays with her. Waving goodbye, she hurried to the elevator. Teal'c was waiting patiently. "I have to stop and get my coat and purse from Daniel's office," she said breathlessly as she slid to a halt beside him.
Teal'c nodded his acknowledgement.
It never occurred to her that she should tell Daniel she was leaving...they'd already discussed the fact that as soon as she was finished with her workout, she'd take the Jeep and go shopping. Daniel had insisted that he could catch a ride home with Sam. And had then teased her with questions about what she was going to buy. So she simply raced into the office, grabbed her belongings, and then ran back to the elevator, where her Jaffa friend waited.
"Do you have a Christmas list?" Casey asked, as they settled onto a seat on the bus that would take them to the parking lot.
"I do not believe so," Teal'c replied.
"You don't know what you're going to get everyone?"
The Jaffa frowned. He hadn't actually had time to consider what gifts he'd purchase for his friends. SG-1 had been particularly busy since their return from vacation, memories of which he would hold dear for the rest of his life. There was also a new cadet group in training, which took up the majority of his days when he was on the base. "I do not."
She patted his hand. "That's okay. We have all day. We'll find the perfect gifts."
"Do you have your Christmas list?"
"Yep. Right here."
His cheek twitched as he watched her search through her purse. Daniel Jackson referred to is as 'that ridiculous pit of junk'. "Perhaps I should drive while you continue your search," he suggested when the bus stopped.
Her blonde head shot up. "You've been hanging around Daniel and Jack way too much," she complained, although her green eyes were twinkling.
"They are my best friends, as well as my teammates," he replied nonchalantly.
"And a very bad influence on you," she retorted.
Teal'c had never ridden with Casey when she drove her own vehicle. She hadn't driven the rental SUV like this! He gripped the hand hold above his head tightly. Daniel Jackson was correct. Casey Jackson was hell on wheels!
The radio was playing, and Casey sang softly with the Christmas carols. She glanced at Teal'c, blushed slightly. "Sorry. Bad habit."
"It is not. You have a lovely voice. I enjoy hearing you sing."
He smiled. "Really. When you sing on the hikes we must make during our missions, I know that all is well."
Her smile lit her face. "Well, it certainly beats listening to Jack mutter and complain about the trees!"
He couldn't have stopped the chuckle that rose to his throat if he had wanted to. O'Neill did complain about the ever present trees on their missions. Although he was certain that it was not meant to be taken seriously. He'd been to the fishing cabin in Minnesota. There were multifarious trees around his private 'fishing hole'. "O'Neill does tend to complain loudly about such things."
"I only have a few things to pick up," Casey said. "The thing of it is, I'll probably have to search for them. I know what I want to get...finding them might prove to be a challenge."
"Will I need to be...distracted...while you purchase my gift?"
She giggled. "Nope. Already purchased and wrapped."
He couldn't help but smile. That his gift had been the first of her friends' gifts purchased left him with warm and happy feeling. "Good."
She glanced over at him. "I think you'll like it. You certainly need it," she informed him.
Now that definitely caught his attention! Just what was it that he needed? Or, more precisely, what could Casey Jackson be convinced that he needed? Her giggle washed over him again. Such a pleasing sound. One that he was certain every male on the base endeavored to hear as often as possible.
"Give it up, you'll never guess what it is," she gloated.
"Of this, I have no doubt." He agreed wholeheartedly with Daniel Jackson. Trying to figure out how Casey Jackson thought was an exercise in frustration and futility. It was difficult enough at times to merely keep up with her!
As was normal for the season, the parking lot of the large Chapel Hills Shopping Mall was full. After a brief discussion, the two shoppers agreed that it would be best to simply find any open place, rather than worry about being near any particular store, or search for a 'close' spot.
It was a good thing she was used to hikes, she thought, walking beside the tall Jaffa. The only parking place she'd been able to locate had been on the Macy's side of the mall, as far from the building as the parking lot extended. She sighed. At least she could take care of two gifts in Macy's...the season pass tickets for the local hockey team, a gift sure to please Jack. And a sweater that Janet had mentioned seeing, but had passed up because she hadn't been able to justify buying another thing that day.
A A A A A A
Daniel put his tray on the table, sat down beside Sam. "Hey."
"Hey," she replied, smiling at him. "So where's your better half?"
"Christmas shopping," he replied. He bit into his sandwich. "She wanted me to go with her, but I have no intention of going anywhere near that mall until after the first of the year."
"You've already finished your shopping," Sam said accusingly. She hadn't even started yet! She'd already made plans to spend her next day off in the hustle and bustle of the, after having her usual Saturday morning breakfast with Janet and Cassie.
Daniel grinned. "Hey, it didn't take that long. And thanks for the advice on the boots."
"Did you find them in a dark brown?"
"Yep. And they're...what did you call them?"
"Yep, that's what they are. Three and a half inch heels," he reported. He didn't add that he couldn't wait to see them on Casey. Heels that high did amazing things for her legs and ass ...a thought that threatened to have him rising to full mast. He quickly pushed that thought aside.
"She'll love them. She can wear them with a long skirt or with jeans," Sam replied.
"Well, it's something she actually asked for," Daniel said. "Damn, it was hard getting anything out of her!"
Sam smiled. "She's still overwhelmed, Daniel. She's not used to receiving gifts. Not used to having anyone who cares about what she wants."
He grimaced. "I know. How long before she can give me a list of things when I ask her what she wants for Christmas?"
"I don't know, Daniel," the blonde major replied softly. "She might never be comfortable doing that."
Jack dropped down on the other side of the table. "Ten."
Sam and Daniel exchanged confused glances. "Excuse me?" Daniel said, his eyebrows going up.
"Ten damned reports. All read. Signed. Duly delivered to the general."
"Just this morning?" Sam asked incredulously.
The older man shook his head. "Nope. Started working on them Monday. Sort of an order," he admitted. His companions ducked their heads and tried to hide their smiles.
Janet slid into the chair beside Jack, a grin splitting her face. "Well, have you heard the latest?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. Gossip had always run rampant at the SGC. He supposed it had to do with the fact that there were only two hundred people who were assigned to the facility. And that they all worked so closely with one another. Sam and Jack had both informed him that rumors were the bane of every military base. But since Casey's arrival, it seemed that the rumor mill had moved into high gear. If there were any derogatory rumors about Casey, or SG-1, none of them ever heard a word, however.
"What?" Sam asked.
"It seems that Casey found out that Teal'c has never been to the mall during Christmas-"
Jack moaned softly. "Tell me she didn't!"
Janet giggled. "She did. They left right after their workout."
"We have to save him," Jack declared, looking at Daniel. "That wife of yours will drag him into every store...he'll be brain dead by...oh, god, it's already noon!"
Sam and Janet burst into laughter. "It's not that bad! He'll have a good time!'
Jack shook his head. "We can't leave him to a fate like that, Daniel. It would be cruel."
"It would be hilarious to watch them...from a distance," Janet said.
Daniel grinned. "Yeah, it would."
Sam nodded. "We should go. There will be so many people there, that they'll never know we're around."
"Well, Teal'c will know if you're around," Jack pointed out.
"Not if I stay far enough away," Sam argued.
"We have to do this," Janet said, her brown eyes dancing. "We cannot pass up the opportunity to see this!"
"We missed the entire bucket thing," Sam agreed. "Not even any security footage of that!"
"And the last water-gun fight," Daniel added. Rumor had it that the new cadets had been caught in the 'crossfire', and left drenched and scared to death as Teal'c had raced passed them, dripping wet, shouting that he'd exact revenge.
"We have to save Teal'c," Jack insisted.
"Elevator in ten?" Sam asked.
With nods of agreement, the four scattered, pushing away from the table and running toward the door so quickly that several of those around them jumped to their feet as well, suspecting some sort of emergency. When the klaxons remained silent, they went back to their lunches, although speculation began to run high concerning the sudden departure of SG-1 and the base CMO.
A A A A A A
Casey led Teal'c to the food court. The stop in Macy's had been successful. Jack's season pass tickets were safely tucked into her wallet. Janet's sweater, in a deep red that would bring out the auburn highlights of her hair, was folded carefully in a bag. It had taken nearly an hour to find the right size in the right color. But her perseverance had paid off. A stop at Bed&Bath to procure gifts for Janet, Cassie, and Sam had added another large bag. Sears had been a stop to find a power drill for Daniel, something he'd decided that as a homeowner, he should have. "I'm starving," she announced, as they hesitated at the edge of the court, taking the time to survey the offerings.
"There are many places from which to chose," Teal' said, taking in the numerous eateries.
"Yes there are. Any preferences?"
"I have none," the large man replied.
"Have you ever had an Orange Julius?"
"I have not."
"Then you have to have an Orange Julius!" she exclaimed. "And a chili dog."
"Chili dog?" One eyebrow went up.
Casey giggled. "Not an actual dog, Teal'c! It's just the name of a type of sausage. Frankfurter, wiener, hot dog...all the same. A chili dog is just a hot dog with chili. Trust me?"
He couldn't help but smile. "Indubitably."
The giggles turned to a full throated laugh. "You've been playing with the Thesaurus again."
There was no need to reply. He followed the slender woman, took note of the number of men who turned to watch her as she made her way through the crowd of people, toward the counter beneath a sign that proclaimed it to be "Orange Julius". Many of the men looked at him with envy in their eyes as he followed her. Mistakenly believing that he was the recipient of the beautiful woman's attentions. He was content to be her friend, knowing that her green eyes would see no man but Daniel Jackson. And that the archaeologist deserved the happiness the vibrant young woman had brought into his life.
He thanked her quietly when she insisted on paying for his lunch, in return for being willing to carry her purchases, she told him. She stood close to him as the crowd continued to grow, both of them jostled several times. When a large family with four rambunctious children threatened to separate them, Casey wrapped her hand around his, and held tightly.
One small table was empty when their order was ready...Casey grabbed the tray of food and made a beeline for the available chairs. Teal'c nearly grinned watching her, hell bent to beat the sultry brunette who'd also spotted the same table. He knew without a doubt who would be successful.
Casey flashed a triumphant grin as she sat the tray on the table just seconds before the brunette had arrived. "Sorry," she said, although the expression on her face was anything but.
"All's fair," the brunette sighed. She gave the large black man an appraising look, and smiled. "Talk about lucky!"
The implication was missed as Casey settled onto the chair, and began to sort out the order. "It's been awhile since I've had a chili dog and Orange Julius," she said, just before taking a large sip of the orange drink.
The Jaffa cautiously took a sip of his own drink. It was rather sweet, he thought. But not unbearably so. A second sip and he decided that the flavor was interesting. By the third sip he'd determined that he liked this beverage. After watching Casey, he took the first bite of the chili dog. This was definitely a food that O'Neill would enjoy. It wasn't exactly bad...but he wouldn't bother eating it again.
A A A A A A
After discussing the fact that parking would be at a premium, the four friends decided to ride together, in Jack's truck. Sam and Janet chatted excitedly, deciding that as long as they were going to be in the mall, they might as well do a bit of shopping. Neither Jack nor Daniel had any intention of doing anything other than what they were going to the mall to do...watch Casey and Teal'c.
It had to be a miracle that they were able to find a parking spot just five away from the door to the food court.
"Okay, remember, we don't want them to know we're here, or watching them," Jack said quietly. "But if Casey tries to make him go into some boutique, Daniel, you and I move in to rescue him."
"Right, Jack," Daniel chuckled.
"Give me a break," Sam muttered.
Janet rolled her eyes, but kept any comments to herself.
The four stopped short when they walked in the door. Sitting at a table at the far side of the food court were the two people they'd come to see. Eating chili dogs and drinking Orange Julius's. And laughing as if they didn't have a care in the world.
For one brief second Daniel fought down a wave of jealousy. Images of green eyes, seeking guidance...approval...from the dark face of the Jaffa flashed through his memory. To be pushed away by the realization that Casey had no memory of those hours. Teal'c would always be, as he'd always been, her friend. Nothing more. Her love belonged to him, and him alone. She'd proven that so sweetly the night before, taking him to the stars...and beyond, with her kisses and caresses, her body loving him until he'd damned near passed out.
"Crap!" Jack hissed. In his mind, he was on a mission...to rescue Teal'c. He immediately began to look around, seeking a place that offered 'cover' for his 'team'.
"Calm down, colonel," Janet said. "Let's just go over to Subway. We'll get sandwiches and give them a chance to move on."
"Sounds good. I didn't get to finish my lunch," Daniel grumped.
"I agree," Sam added.
"Fine," Jack said. He turned toward the restaurant, watching over his shoulder as Teal'c and Casey ate their own lunch.
Sam and Janet were watching as well. "They're having fun," Sam said softly.
"Yes, they are," Janet agreed. "She deserves it. And maybe this will help Teal'c as well. He's carrying so much guilt."
"I know," Sam replied. "He risked his life for her. Not that he hasn't done that for each of us," Sam qualified quickly. "But he was practically obsessed with the need to bring her home."
"To return her to Daniel," Janet correctly gently. "Teal'c still carries around guilt for what happened to Sha're. He'll die before he allows Daniel to suffer the loss of another wife."
That sweet, familiar giggle drifted over the loud murmur of voices to tickle his ears. Daniel grinned as he glanced over at them. He couldn't help but wonder what Teal'c was saying that had her laughing so hard.
A A A A A A
Feeling fortified, and anxious to return to her shopping, Casey gathered the trash that littered the table in front of them. Carried the tray to the trash receptacle, left the tray on top with the others.
Teal'c waited for her near the entrance to the food court. "Where do you wish to go now?"
"Well, Wilson's Leather is having a sale, and I saw a vest in there that would be perfect for Sam. She's got the jacket and chaps, but I thought a vest would be nice...something she can wear during the summer," Casey said, pushing a hand through her hair.
"I believe Major Carter will be pleased with such a gift," Teal'c replied.
"I hope so," she sighed. "I want this Christmas to be perfect. For Daniel. His life has been so full of sadness, loss...he deserves perfect."
"Daniel Jackson has informed me that having you in his life is all that he needs, or wishes for."
Casey smiled. "Daniel always says the sweetest things. I still want this Christmas to be special for him."
"As he wishes for you," Teal'c said softly.
"Just being with him will make it perfect for me," she said softly.
"As being with you will make it for him."
She put her head against his shoulder. "Thanks. You're a good friend, Teal'c," she sighed.
"As are you, Casey Jackson."
She began to giggle. "Okay, now that we've done the mutual adoration society thing, let's..." she stopped. Stared at the sign in the window of the shop.
His instincts were immediately on alert. "What is it?"
"The Golden Needle. They do piercings."
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